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Microsoft keeps Windows rights, for now

Microsoft will be able to keep its hold on the trademark rights for its Windows software for the next several months, but those rights appear to be in some jeopardy in a federal court case in Seattle.

In a ruling last week that was made public over the weekend, US District Judge John C. Coughenor of Seattle turned down a formal request by a Microsoft rival, Lindows.com Inc., to wipe out the trademark on Windows, which Microsoft has had for nearly eight years. It has become one of the world's best-known trademarks, and Microsoft regards it as highly valuable, having spent more than $1.2 billion to promote that identity.

The fate of the trademark, the judge ruled, must be decided by a jury at a trial scheduled to start April 7. The judge said he could not rule on that issue before a trial, as Lindows.com had asked, since there are factual disputes between Microsoft and Lindows that only a jury can resolve.

Microsoft has contended that San Diego-based Lindows.com is violating the Windows trademark by using the similar name "Lindows" for a competing operating system based on the Linux open-source software.

Lindows.com has argued that Microsoft's trademark is invalid, because the word "windows" has been used as a generic term for the overlapping windows, or graphic boxes, that are displayed on a computer desktop, leading the user into various applications. Under federal trademark law, a generic term cannot be trademarked.

News source: digitalMass

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